STUART, Iowa – Bobby Pierce was not going to be denied during Thursday night’s Midwest Latemodel Racing Ass’n stop at Stuart Int’l Speedway.
Pierce rebounded from a disappointing heat race to capture his second MLRA win of the year, charging forward from 13th on the grid to win the 40-lap main event at the high-banked, quarter-mile clay oval and beating Chris Simpson to the checkered flag.
In the process, Pierce picked up Casey’s General Store Hard Charger honors on the night.
After picking up the win in the third heat race, Payton Looney rolled from the DirtonDirt.com pole alongside of Iowa’s Tyler Bruening. Both front row starters were in search of their first career MLRA win.
From the start it was Looney seizing control with Bruening close behind, as both drivers survived multiple cautions in the early going.
As the drivers completed lap five, heartbreak hit for the race leader, as a quick but devastating puff of smoke out of the No. 15 of Looney sent drivers scrambling to avoid the slowing Atnip Motorsports machine exiting turn two.
Looney pulled to the inside and exited the track, ending his quest for his first MLRA win.
On the restart, Bruening darted to the lead with Midwest Sheet Metal point leader Will Vaught and Chris Simpson in tow. Additional cautions on laps eight and 10 continued to bunch the field up, allowing Pierce to continue his march forward.
As the race hit a long green-flag stretch, Pierce finally found himself working the top side of the speedway, grabbing the race lead on lap 16.
Pierce was able to work his way through lapped traffic without issue until a final caution waved with just 11 laps remaining.
On the restart, Pierce was able to again get the jump over Bruening and Vaught, but this time it was Simpson taking full advantage and marching into the runner up spot.
That was of no consequence to Pierce, however, as he on to capture the win, his second in a row with the MLRA after winning the Slocum 50 two weeks ago.
“I got a little concerned when they went back out there and prepped [the track] before the feature, but with 40 laps and all these late models out here, it slicked it off pretty quick,” said Pierce. “It (Stuart Speedway) turned out to be a really nice place and I’m really glad that we drove six hours to get here. This MLRA Series has been treating me well so far.
“I was really glad that they stayed down in (turns) three and four just enough for me to get around. It was a pretty tricky track with the different corners,” he added. “There are not a whole lot of places that get like that, but when they do, I like it because I’m always trying to watch the race track and adjust to what it’s doing.”
Simpson’s runner-up finish was his third consecutive top five with the MLRA and highest series finish of the season.
“I just messed around too much on that bottom in (turns) three and four and didn’t realize you had to be on the top like that, and once I seen Bobby (up there) it was too late,” noted Simpson. “Once he gets in front of you and there is a cushion, you ain’t gonna catch him. All in all, it was a fun little place and I look forward to coming back.”
Tyler Bruening, Will Vaught and Jordan Yaggy completed the top five, while National Dirt Late Model Hall of Famer Billy Moyer finished sixth in the 23-car field.
Bobby Pierce, Chris Simpson, Tyler Bruening, Will Vaught, Jordan Yaggy, Billy Moyer, Chad Simpson, Mitch McGrath, Richie Gustin, Logan Martin, Jake Neal, Jeremy Grady, J.C. Wyman, Allen Murray, Brian Kosiski, Dave Eckrich, Jay Johnson, Chad Holladay, Jesse Stovall, Andrew Kosiski, Terry Phillips, Payton Looney, Joseph Gorby.